Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do awards really mean anything, or do they merely reward kiss-ups?

If the latter is true, my brother and I are the two biggest kiss-ups in the school. My parents said it got to the point where it was almost embarrassing. I did receive the honor of graduating number one. The district would have fought it, probably, but my brother would have been number one had it not been I, and the next person was clearly below either of us, so they gave in.

My brother is claiming the honor of delivering the valedictory address, which was very much a favor to me. A little more than a year ago, I might have felt comfortable speaking before my classmates and virtually everyone important in their lives, but things have changed since then, and I'm no longer the same person I was before my life-changing events of last summer and fall. My brother, while very happy to be in the spotlight, was equally happy to have me take on the task of composing his words. We're Moses and his brother Aaron. I'm the hare-lip (sorry for the lack of political correctness! I'm the one with the cleft lip and the resulting speech impediment.) My brother is the one with little to say yet who says it so well. The rhetoric on most occasions may have sprung from Moses' stone tablet, but it was Aaron's articulate and impassioned delivery that allowed listeners to focus upon the message for long enough to hear and comprehend, much less to remember, what was said. Without the aid of Aaron's speaking abilities, The Ten Commandments might very well have been disambiguated into "Thou shalt not commit adultery in vain on the Sabbath if doing so dishonors one's parents and results in murder or theft, and if one must bear false witness and/or covet someone or something belonging to one's neighbor in order to accomplish said adultery." The importance of the delivery cannot nor should not be understated. Someday -- ideally by the time I reach law school-- I hope to regain the ability to speak easily and argue persuasively before a group, but for now, I'll have to be content to be a writer, if I dare call myself even that.

The speech is a doozy. After all is said and done, I may be able to share it here, or I may not. In terms of maintiaining security and anonymity, I'll abide by my parents' wishes. Matthew ans I have prepared a fake speech for the rehearsal. It's so very generic that I doubt few who hear it will fall for it as being the actual speech. The real one's not so controversial that the administrators in charge will cut the power to my brother's microphone, but a few feathers may be ruffled. It's just as well that my mom is resigning from the district, that she has secured the part-time position she desires, and that everything connected to my assault has already been settled. In many ways it will be the typical reflective graduation speech, but as I'm the one who wrote it, it is, as I see it, the sort of candid, striahtforward, "calling a spade a spade" piece of work one who has read my writings would expect from me. I did not take shots at individuals for the sheer fun of being mean. For example, I did not mention Mrs. Ratzlaff's clothing and how she was nominatted for the television program "What Not to Wear." I see no point in aiming a barb in the direction of Mrs. Ratzlaff (not her real name, by the way)just to gain a few nervous laughs. Such an attack, however good-natured I might pretend it to be, would be personal. Furthermore, it still wouldn't change the manner in which Mrs. Ratzlaff dresses, which is in home-sewn clothing constructed from patterns that surely must date back to the 1960's, so what would be the point? My brother (who agrees with everything written, or it would not be in the address) and I intend to take on policies, not individuals. After the fact, even if I'm not able to share the speech in its entirety, which I very well may not, I'll let you know how it went.

I came out slightly ahead of my brother in scholarship offers. He came very close to me if one counts the obscure colleges who want him to play baseball dor which he has no intention whatsoever of attending, including some religious extremist college in eastern Virginia who is supposedly losing their starting rotation pitcher to the major league draft. I still came out slightly ahead.

Matthew had to decide whether to attend a prep school, then red-shirt at a regular college or university, then play his four years. Since he has no intention of turning professional and probably lacks the talent and size anyway, there's probably no point in a prep school. He'll red-shirt as a freshman wherever he goes because it's not fair to pit a guy who will be barely seventeen when the season starts against twenty-two-year-olds (and some even older if he goes Mountain West, where many players have served mormon missions). So he'll pick his univeristy based both on its academic status and its baseball program. After four years, he can shoose whether to graduate and go on to medical or dental school, or he can stick around one more year and play. In the event he turns into the college equivalent of Lincicum or whatever the guy's name is, he can enter the draft and see what happens, but it's unlikely because Tim Lincicum types don't come around very often. My parents have made it clear that he does not have to play baseball. if he starts it and finds that it interferes with his educational goals, he is free to quit and they will pick up the tab. Some of his scholarships are academic, anyway.

I thought the awards committee got it backwards. I got the math/science award, and Matt got the liberal arts award, when the reverse might have been more correct, although the liberal arts award is more subjective. We both received outstanding athlete for our gender. The rumor is that they already had a basketball/softball player's name on the plaque but almost had to give it to me when I placed 2nd overall in state in diving, and had a first and third finish in at the state track meet in hurdling, as well as an appearance (that went absolutely nowhere) on a relay team at state. My accomplishments were unprecedented at our school, and were, I have to admit, an element of dumb luck. Sometimes you just get lucky and thinga work in your favor. After my previous April through September, and then all the fallout, it was probably time for me to have a run of good luck. I don't feel guilty. We're an academic powerhouse, but not an athletic one. Still, I'm just humble enough to feel honored as opposed to feeling that I deserved it.

My parents won't get off scot-free on my college education, but their costs have been cut by about two-thirds, and slightly more when considering my godfather is paying my dorm fees for the first two years so that I can have a dorm room for day use but not stay in it most nights. My parents' new home is within easy commuting distance from the university. My second year, we'll re-think the dorm issue. When I'm seventenn-and-a-half, I may be ready for dorm life. There's a lot of time to rethink it.

My brother has his choice between a few prestigious institutions with decent baseball programs, plus a few less-than-prestigious institutions with reputable baseball programs. Not that he's been recruited at this specific school, but, for example, he won't go to Fresno State even though they were nCAA champs a few years ago because their academic reputation would hurt his chances of getting into medical school. My parents want him to stay on the west coast; he probably won't go anywhere outside of California. He could have a full-ride at a division IA UC, but he doesn't want it. He has to decide almost immediately . i feel sorry for him in that regard, because it's a tough choice. I've known where I wanted to go for about five years.

My parents put away sufficient funds to pay for each of our educations at a school comparable to a UC. Since I'm going to a UC, they can afford, to put the extra money that I earned in scholarship funds toward Matt's education if he goes to a private university, so it's a good deal for everyone.

I hope we didn't get what we got for being suck-ups.


  1. I don't think you (or your brother) are suck ups at all. You received the rewards for your efforts, plain and simple :)

    Congrats :)

  2. "if I dare call myself even that"

    I dare to call you a writer, Alexis, because I am one of your readers.

    I think you should consider taking creative and non-fiction writing as part of your college course.